SNIFFER dogs have been used to track counterfeit and illegal cigarettes on sale in Thurrock and fake and non-duty paid tobacco equating to 3,350 packs of 20 cigarettes was seized from one shop.
Thurrock Council is not releasing details of where the goods were discovered and seized because of an ongoing criminal investigation, but the authority’s deputy leader, Cllr Shane Hebb, said: “I’m delighted that Trading Standards has pulled more than 67,000 cigarettes off the streets during this latest inspection.
“Sales of this type of tobacco don’t just harm legitimate business but are often associated with criminal gangs involved in major crime and steal hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid tax from public coffers.
“Public safety is our top priority and we will continue to work with residents and our partners in tracking down counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco.”
The tobacco was found by tobacco sniffer dogs Bruiser, a four-year-old cocker beagle, and Mostyn, a two-year-old cocker springer.
On 11 December, two Trading Standards officers and an officer from the Immigration Service visited nine shops around Grays and Tilbury with a dog handler and Bruiser and Mostyn. The inspection was one of six planned exercises checking a range of different businesses and areas in Thurrock since April as part of a clampdown on identifying black market tobacco being sold in the borough.